Cinerama South Seas Adventure is the fourth Cinerama feature to be released to home video.
Reviewed by Karl Scott
It was preceded by This is Cinerama, Windjammer, and Cinerama Holiday. Like CH, this film was re-mastered by Image Trends in Austin, Texas, where they digitally reprocess every cell of all three reels of film used for the single three-screen image. The color is spectacular and most of the inherent problems in combining three images into one have been corrected.
This time out, the Cinerama production team visit Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga, Australia, Tahiti, Fiji and the New Hebrides. A series of story lines adds human interest to the travelogue. In 1958, much of the scenery in CSSA was truly exotic, and visiting Hawaii just before statehood is a special treat. Not a single Honolulu skyscraper was in existence. Just lots of surfing, boat rides and singing. A long scene at Don the Beachcomber’s famous restaurant, including most of the floorshow, is lots of fun to watch.
Tahiti harkens back the time of painter Paul Gauguin. The scenery and girls are very pretty. Lots more dancing and local customs are shown.
The New Zealand visit is the most spectacular, including the South Island’s Southern Alps. The cineramic visit includes spectacular ski plane landings and take-offs from Cook Glacier, as well as geysers of the type familiar in Yellowstone National Park.
The Australian scenes show a lot of Sydney and the harbor, before the Opera House was built. Lots of time is spent showing the quaintness of life in the outback where there isn’t much but long stretches of dirt, plus kangaroos.
Composer Alex North provides a spectacular score to accompany the scenery and fill in where the local native music isn’t included. His bouncy theme from the kangaroo scene is a highlight. He would re-use that theme in the 1975 Richard Brooks western, Bite the Bullet.
Like Cinerama Holiday, this restored film was previewed in the LA/Hollywood Pacific Cinerama Dome in the summer of 2013. On hand were the two of the principle actresses and the beautiful Tahitian dancer Ramine, who played the dancer Turia. She was beautiful in 1958, and 55 years later only the color of her hair has changed.
You can see these ladies in a slide show of images about the film and its re-premiere as one of the seven extras on Blu-ray and DVD. A 28-page companion booklet covers everything I missed. The film is presented in the Smilebox format. It includes the Overture, Intermission and Exit Music. Aloha.
Rated 3.9 out of 4.0 Hawaii 5.0s. Look it up.